I’ve always expected that an EU renegotiation would secure very little – the Brussels system is so stubbornly anti-democratic, and the gap between protectionist “ever closer union” and British ambitions of a self-determining, globally minded future is so great, that it’s hard to see anything of permanent value being offered.
That’s not to say I oppose the government trying. At minimum, those of us of a Better Off Out persuasion would gain a public demonstration that even limited requests from Britain are rejected out of hand by the EU. That sight should persuade sceptics who haven’t yet decided we ought to leave outright that negotiating inside the EU is impossible.
Today we see some of the symptoms of a renegotiation in trouble. George Osborne in The Sun on Sunday, backed by Liam Fox in the Mail on Sunday, lays out perfectly reasonable demands for fundamental changes to the EU’s free movement of peoples. As Fox says:
“The control of our borders will be the most defining of all the negotiations David Cameron will have with the European Union after the next Election. It is increasingly clear that voters across Europe equate it with the concept of sovereignty.”
Whether you’re an opponent of immigration, an ardent multi-culturalist or an open borders free marketeer, we should all be able to agree that our immigration policy should be democratically controlled from Westminster. Cameron, Osborne and Fox are right to argue that the current system is broken – as elected politicians, they are now paying the price at the ballot box for the EU’s policies, which have laid waste to the Government’s net migration pledge.
But contrast those demands with the ongoing battle, reported in The Sunday Times, over the candidacy of Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the EU Commission. The Prime Minister rightly put his foot down this week to stop the slavish federalist getting the top job – but now France and Germany steam on behind their man regardless.
If we can’t even stop one man going to Brussels, how are we going to stop millions of people being allowed, unrestricted, into Britain? Such is the EU’s system – the project ratchets ever onward, and no amount of protest, even the voices of millions, will be allowed to stop it.
More and more people, politicians and voters, are demanding an end to the slow-motion train wreck which is ever closer union – but it seems the brick wall will withstand any number of heads bashing against it.